This is a review. This is only a review.
This isn't a reflection on God, fishing and the meaning of life.
We've done the best we can to share our reaction to the fly rods submitted for
evaluation. Take it all with a grain of salt. The best way to
find a new fly rod that fits your needs and does what you
need done at a price you're willing to pay is to visit your local
fly shop and talk to the folks there. Cast the rods yourself and then make
up your own mind. If you use this article as a resource to narrow down the field and
what you read motivates you to drive clear across the county to the one dealer who
has one of these rods in stock for you to test, then we'll consider
this effort a resounding success! Support your local businesses and
remember to think globally, but fish (and shop) locally.
To the manufacturers who trusted us to give
them a fair shake, we hope you're not disappointed. We appreciate
the angst a subjective review can create, and we've tried our best to present
the strengths of the gear you graciously loaned us. Every rod in
this review is a solid performer that will catch fish and deliver value
for a long, long time. We fished all of these rods, not just
once but on multiple occasions and under varying conditions. We didn't
talk amongst ourselves about the review while it was in progress. And we didn't go searching
around on-line to find prices and look over the opinions of others so we could line up with
the rest of the media. We took the rods out on the water, got them wet,
and slimed them up with some fish scales and formulated our own opinions. A few of these rods got tied
to fish we're pretty sure you hadn't counted on as candidates for 2-weight
ultra-light fly rods! We didn't break anything, but some of this stuff
might be coming back to you with a layer of "good mojo"! Again,
thanks for your trust.
The Fly Rod Fairy
This is an
interesting summary. While we've worked hard to identify the
strengths and weaknesses of every rod in this review, there remains the
fact that each of us has different biases and owns different selections of
gear already In order to take that bias into consideration, we've
created a daydream exercise. This is all about desire. Perhaps the
responses will give you, the reader, a better idea of which rods we, the
reviewers, lust after in the context of how we fish and the gear we
already own. Each reviewer was given the following scenario:
We all know that if you put a tooth under
your pillow, the tooth fairy will come while you're asleep and leave a few
coins in exchange for the tooth. Now imagine there's a fly rod fairy.
The fly rod fairy requires that you leave a few scales from your favorite
fish under the pillow, and she will leave a fly rod in exchange. Which
fish's scales are you going to leave for the fly rod fairy and which of
the 22 fly rods you've just reviewed do you most wish the fly rod fairy
will leave for you to keep?
"There’s no question in my mind that I would
leave the fly rod fairy a few brown trout scales for the
Mystic M273-2. As an amateur rod builder
and a tackle freak, the quality and craftsmanship that this rod
displays is the equal of any rod I have ever seen. The fact that it
also delightful to cast and fish with is almost too good to be true!"
Jeremy Kurtz: "My favorite fish is the pumpkinseed since it is
one of the most beautiful fish in NE Ohio. I'd leave it's scales under
my pillow. Hopefully the St.
Croix Legend Ultra would be under my pillow in the morning, since it
is a versatile all-around performer for UL situations."
Joe Cornwall: "Most folks who know me know my favorite fish is
the stream smallmouth bass, but I seldom fish such light gear for
that scrappy fellow. When I pick up an ultra-light I'm typically
looking for panfish, and the king of the panfish is the bluegill.
Yes, I'm a fool for bluegill! While I lust for the
South Fork, if I
had to choose just one it would be the
St. Croix Imperial. I'd
leave the scales from a chunky gill and I'd hope to see that magnificent
rod under my pillow when I awoke."
Jim Stuard: "Besides most of the local, oversized river
denizens I usually fish for, one of my favorite species to catch are the
sun-crazed brook trout up on the Au Sable River, in Northern Michigan.
Mostly during the trico hatches that begin in early July. With that in
mind, a brook trout scale would go under my pillow in hopes for the
Flyweight. I couldn't think of a better combination of pimpin' style,
and outright performance that will make a pissed off 8" brookie feel
like a steelhead."
The Review Results
And so we come to the bottom line. Which is
the best fly rod? It's important to note that there is only a .42
point difference in the span of the top five finishers. Fly Fish
Ohio uses a 5-Fly Rating System,
where a 5 represents the very best available with no discernable
shortcomings. To get four fly fishermen with different casting
styles who fish under completely different conditions to all agree on
the perfection of a fly rod is a rare and unusual event. When
any fly rod gets a score over a 4, it's an achievement. In
short, all of these fly rods are all pretty fantastic pieces of gear.
But there has to be only one to wear the crown...
Best Mighty-Mite 2-weight Fly Rod
(6-feet in length or less)
With a score of 4.43, the
Classic Flyweight took
honors with the second highest score in the entire field, missing the
very top spot by only .02 points! It's a truly classy piece of
gear, one that absolutely embodies pride of ownership. It does
everything you could ask of a 6-foot length of graphite fibers and a bit
more. If you're looking for the last small stream rod you'll ever
own, this should make the short list.
Coming in second with a score of 4.03 in the short rod
category is the Classic Flyweight's little brother, the truly petite
fiberglass Hardy Aln! This rod
is almost shocking in its size, delicacy and serious attitude.
Great things come in small packages, and for those who prowl the most
shrouded of streams and cast to little jewels in clear flows, this rod
is a "must cast" contender.
Finally, honorable mention must be given to the
St. Croix Imperial with a
score of 3.83, which, at half the cost of its Hardy competition, is a
very fine fly rod in its own right and quite worthy of serious
consideration even if price isn't an object. The fact that it retails
for just $150 speaks volumes about its value!
Best Budget 2-Weight Under $200
Carbon 732 with a score of 4.08 is simply an awesome achievement
in both quality and value. For under $170, this fine fly rod took
the fourth highest overall score, missing top honors by only .37 points.
At 7' 3", it's a versatile length with serious capability.
GRXi001 certainly didn't let the Echo run away with the honors.
It earned a composite score of 3.93. With a .11 difference in
score, the top pick could have gone either way if the wind had been
blowing differently! The $20 difference in price can go a long way
towards a matching line, so for many this might be the best value rod of
Finally, honorable mention goes to the
Elkhorn Western 702-2
with a score of 3.85. For $10 more than the Echo, this
fly rod delivers a classic package complete with all the extras.
If your idea of a budget rod includes a bit of tasteful bling to go
along with world-class performance, you really need to give this one a
And The Over-All Great 2-Weight
Shoot-Out Best Fly Rod is...
It's vital to recognize that a
5-Fly rating means a fly rod is Absolutely Outstanding! As good as
it gets! Regardless of price, this is a product that epitomizes
performance. There's just nothing to complain about and nothing more to
want. A lifetime product that sets a benchmark for all that will follow.
In this review we've found six fly rods that scored 4.0 or
better. If you're in the market for a 2-weight fly rod, these are
the best we've found and are certainly some of the very best available
at any price!
South Fork Classic C662
charmed the review team with a solid 4.00.
The Hardy Aln
impressed us with its 4.03.
Carbon stunned us with a 4.08.
St. Croix Legend Ultra
lived up to its impressive moniker with a legendary 4.33!
Hardy Classic Flyweight
has very little competition at 4.43!!
Mystic M273-2 absolutely captured the
imagination and respect of everyone who cast it with an amazing
composite score of 4.45. It is the winner of the Great 2009
Take Me Back To
Me The Rods...